Natural Fiber Socks – A Value Added Product
Nancy Barnett of Marble Hill, MO was looking for a value-added product that could add merit and revenue to her farm. Nancy’s farm consists of 17 acres which she uses to raise sheep, Angora goats and Angora rabbits. Nancy has been a hand spinner and has sold the natural fiber she produces to other spinners for over 18 years, but was looking for other products that would also use the fiber to bring in more revenue.
With the help of a 2001 grant from SARE, Nancy was able to find her niche. Her main goal from this project was to purchase a small sock mill where she could produce and create a market for products made from the natural fiber. “There are many small farms raising sheep, Angora goats and Angora rabbits, but unless there is a market for their fibers there are no benefits to raising these animals,” stated Barnett.
The process began by sending the wool, mohair, and angora to a spinning mill where it was spun into a two-ply yarn that would fit the sock machines. Obtaining the correct thickness of the yarn appeared to be one of the biggest difficulties that they faced, but after several examinations were able to purchase a machine that worked well for the fibers that they used.
Nancy produces socks that are 100% wool, 15% angora 85% wool, and 25% mohair 75% wool, selling respectively for $10.00, $18.00, and $12.00. They have received a large response for the natural fiber products; individuals such as farmers, fisherman, hunters and hikers and been a few of the more common consumers.
Nancy’s accomplishments over the last few years have verified how successful the grant was. She has been able to attend craft and fiber festivals each year as well as being interviewed on Successful Farming Radio to promote her value-added products.